Often times I find myself feeling lonely, despite the fact that I’m surrounded by people. In my profession, I interact with people on a regular basis. We get to know one another, tell our stories, and share our thoughts. One would think this would fill a large amount of lonely space. Yet, I still find myself feeling empty inside.
I wouldn’t consider myself a Buddhist by any means, but I often find myself referring to their knowledge and beliefs. I go through these periods where I like to remove myself from all social media. I find the mindless time I spend on social media can be easily replicated with REAL person to person interaction. It also requires people to seek me out.
Admittedly, in my loneliest moments, this makes me feel better. It’s a bit deceptive if I’m honest. I know without a doubt, someone will need me. By removing myself from the easiest form of communication, I’m forcing people to console my loneliness without ever letting them know.
Recently, this didn’t work. I removed myself, and people sought me out, but it was in no way satisfying. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I found it irritating that people couldn’t just leave me alone. I wondered why I was feeling so “antisocial”. I started searching the Buddhist view on loneliness, and what I found shocked me.
SOLITUDE: For some reason this concept was foreign to me. With a husband who works 56 hours a week, a teenager, a tween, a preschooler, a full time job with over time, and a few other hats I like to wear just for fun, why on earth would I want solitude? Why would I ever want to stop running so much that my brain might actually catch up to my feet? What reason would I want to fill my ears with silence when I can hear cries, requests, and demands all day? It just didn’t make sense!
LONELINESS: Now here’s a feeling I’m all to familiar with. In a house full of people, and a job overflowing with people communication, I still found myself having days where I felt hopelessly lonely! Surrounded by the people I love, helping people the way I love to, and yet I could still feel lonely inside. Nothing about this made sense to me. So, I sought out some older and wiser visionaries.
I recently read an article written by Noah Tysick, an English professor at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His take on it was very liberating. In a sense, I should not allow my loneliness to be my pain, but let it be my place of peace. I realized that I was annoyed because my inner self was requesting solitude.
I decided to embrace this new feeling of fulfillment without the need of human an interaction. I spent more time outside, closing my eyes and taking in the sounds. I even found less need to communicate daily with my spouse and children. Not to say I just cut them out, but I learned a new way of communication.
With this I was able to decipher what was important and what NEEDED to be said, from the monotonous action of speaking just to be heard. Once I really embraced solitude, I was even able to find small moments for meditation. As a mom and full time worker I never thought I’d find the time for that again.
Perception and attitude is everything when it comes to feeling lonely. I can either drown myself in the sorrows of loneliness, or I can bathe myself in the serenity of peaceful solitude. It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you respond.
To the readers,
I truly wish you peace in your life journeys. Be free of stress and anguish. Let my experience help you find your way to solitude, or encourage you to continue your path in solitude.
Solitude requires self discipline. I’m working on that 😁